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Have floatie, will travel to the lake

Like many Spokane County residents, my summertime conversations are peppered with references to “the lake.” I’m usually referring to Diamond Lake, where my brother-in-law owns a home.

I love being on the lake.

I adore looking at the lake.

I just don’t like being in the lake.

My idea of swimming involves plenty of concrete, chlorine and NO fish or seaweed. My mother traces this aversion to when we lived on Guam. While my siblings enjoyed the white, sandy beaches, I refused to get off the blanket unless I was carried or wearing shoes. “It’s dirty!” I insisted.

So recently, when our family packed to spend a week at Diamond Lake, one purchase was absolutely essential – I needed a new floatie

A few summers ago the boys had popped my beloved aqua floatie with its comfy cushion, cutout for leg-dangling and built-in beverage holder.

However, shopping for summertime accessories when stores have already stocked their shelves with school supplies proved daunting and discouraging.

Finally, a helpful sales associate directed us to the General Store. Now, longtime readers of this column know I refer to places like this as “man-stores” – places to be avoided at all costs.

But I was desperate. So desperate, I allowed my husband and 17-year-old son to accompany me. “Remember,” I instructed them. “We are only here to buy a floatie, nothing else!”

My words floated away. They were already enamored with hunting knives and BB guns. “Hey, Dad, check it out!” said Zack. He pointed to a miniature cannon under the glass-topped counter.

Derek’s eyes lit up. “Don’t even think about it,” I warned.

His gaze was riveted. “But,” he breathed. “I NEED a cannon.”

I tapped him on the shoulder. “Focus.”

Alas, the General Store’s summer stock was also seriously depleted. We looked at something called a water hammock, but Zack advised against. “No cup holder,” he pointed out.

Derek dug around on the shelves and then he spotted it. He pulled out a box containing the Cadillac of floaties. A floatie so sumptuous, it featured a pillow for my head, TWO cup holders and a built-in ice chest!

This wasn’t just any floatie – this was a “SumoFloat.”

Now, I know some women might balk at buying a super-sized floatie. When you’re already suffering from swimsuit trauma, it could deal a harsh blow to one’s self-esteem to board a floatie that touts its “massive Sumo size” and “huge capacity.” Especially, when the floatie comes decorated with a squatting Sumo wrestler.

Not me.

I took one look and immediately knew this was the floatie I’d been dreaming of. I could drift around for hours, bobbing on the gentle waves of Diamond Lake, sipping a deliciously cool beverage, while languidly reading a beach novel.

Although the price made my husband flinch, he gamely toted the float to the checkout stand murmuring something about cannons and Christmas.

Upon arriving at the lake I was wracked with terrible anxiety. What if my floatie failed to inflate?

I needn’t have worried. After all, nobody knows my husband’s lung power better than me. In no time at all, I was clutching my fully inflated treasure as I marched down to the dock where Zack and Sam waited.

I prepared to lower it into the water, but Zack lifted his hand. “Wait just a minute, Ma,” he said, and proceeded to attach a rope to my floatie. The other end of the rope he attached securely to the dock. “Don’t want you floating away from us,” he said.

Grabbing the ladder I eased my way onto the floatie. “Just run and jump on it,” my husband advised. I ignored him. My husband knows swimming – not floating.

When I was safely ensconced, Zack handed me my book and beverage and I was off.

Bliss doesn’t begin to describe it. Hot sun, blue skies, a great novel and a lemony drink. Whenever I grew too warm, I simply draped a leg over the edge of the floatie into the cool lake.

The next morning as I prepared to descend to the dock, Derek said, “Boys go launch your mother.”

I assured them I didn’t need any help. “It’s a floatie, not the Queen Mary,” I said. Once safely aboard, I pushed off from the dock, only to find I didn’t float very far. When the boys joined me, I asked them why my floatie stayed so near the dock.

They looked at each other. Then Zack shrugged and said, “Ma, the truth is we were uncomfortable with you floating so far out into the lake. We shortened your rope.”

No matter, I still enjoyed my floating, reading and dozing. So much so that at the end of the week I suffered severe floatie separation anxiety as I left my Sumo behind for my sister-in-law to enjoy.

When we arrived home, our 20-year-old son stopped by. I told Alex all about my floatie and how much I’d enjoyed my time on the water. “But did you get wet?” he asked.

“Only the parts I wanted to,” I replied.

And that my friends, is how I do the lake.

Contact Cindy Hval at